The job of a resume is to get you an interview. To do its job it must be FOCUSED and RELEVANT. It needs to scream “This person can do the job!” If you want to do more of what you’ve done before, you can use a CHRONOLOGICAL RESUME. If you want something different, you’ll need to rearrange your experiences to emphasize transferable skills using a COMBINATION RESUME. See back for an outline which will work for most people. More examples are available in the Center for Career Development.
What are The Rules?
There are no rules except to tell the truth. A resume is a marketing document and you should do whatever is most helpful in presenting YOU to potential employers.
One Page vs Two Pages
If you have a lot of relevant experience two pages are fine. Right out of college, most people can manage nicely with one page. In either case keep it tight, concise, and specific.
Make it pleasing to the eyes. An attractive resume is like a nicely wrapped package; people are inclined to expect something good inside. It must be perfect, perfect, perfect…spelling, grammar, everything. Definitely have someone else proofread your work. Choose a simple, clean font, and allow for white space between sections.
Objective Statement or Not?
You need something up front telling the employer what you are looking for or what you can do. An entry level person should include an “objective”. The experienced job-seeker will do better with a “summary” or “qualifications” section. Whichever you choose, it must be specific to the kind of job you want.
Larger organizations may scan resumes into a data base. Some hints: Use only white or off-white paper. Use as much specific terminology (key words) as possible in order to “match” a job announcement. Note machines you can run, tests you can do, software programs you know. Keep it clean, free of hard to scan fonts/symbols, and at least 12 point. Avoid columns and “chunks” which are hard to scan. Do not staple.
Employers are most interested in specific accomplishments. Use action words such as “organized, achieved, established.” Use facts and numbers. You may want a section just for “Special Skills” to highlight computer skills, language proficiency, and/or tests you can administer. Employers also like to see leadership and teamwork demonstrated through your participation in activities, volunteer positions and sports.
If your GPA is 3.5 or higher, put it on your resume. You may want to have a section listing relevant coursework. Don’t include high school information unless you are a teacher applying to the district from which you graduated. Note: Some recent articles are advising to put your GPA on your resume in any case.
It is customary to have a separate list of references that you can give to a potential employer. Be sure you have asked permission, and have included the person’s name, title, phone number, and email address. You may also list your references on your resume in a section at the end. Five professional or professor references (and no personal ones!) are about right. In no case put “references available on request”. It’s a waste of space.
Street Address ♦ City, State Zip
Phone ♦ Email Address
Clearly state your job objective, for example “An entry level social service position working with disadvantaged youth” or “An entry level customer service position” or “”A position within the publishing industry.” Leave out descriptions like “challenging, room for growth, etc.”; they’re vague and overused.
BA Major, Eastern University, St. Davids, PA (expected May 20xx)
Related Coursework: list the courses that contribute to your qualifications for this position. (optional)
Thesis Topic: include this if it is related to the job you are seeking. (optional)
List here your knowledge of computers or special equipment, languages or other specific skills related to the job for which you are applying. If you don’t have any, leave this section out.
List experiences (paid and unpaid) related to the position you are seeking. Begin with the most recent. Examples:
- Customer Service, ACORN BANK, Wayne, PA (2009-now, part time)
Worked part time during the school year as teller and customer service representative. Handled an average of 200 transactions daily with accuracy. Solved customer problems. Commended by employer and promoted twice.
- HABITAT FOR HUMANITY, Eastern University, Wayne PA (20010-11)
Served on the board of the university chapter. Responsible for recruiting volunteers for work days as well as spring break trips to work sites in NC and LA. Successfully led trip of 15 volunteers to New Orleans to rehabilitate houses.
Put other work experiences here, but in the same format. It isn’t as important as RELATED, so be brief. Examples:
- Barista, Wayne Coffee Shop, Wayne PA (dates)
As well as serving customers, was responsible for training new hires and occasionally standing in for the Manager.
- Babysitter, various families, Wayne PA (dates)
Be as specific as you can. For example:
- President, College Marching Band (dates by year)
Arranged two tours, including performances, housing, and transportation. Budget of $5,000.
- Member, Cross Country Team, Eastern University, 2010 – present)